‘What Could Be Better?”

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Nasturtiums are the yardstick of frost. When their thick tendrils go limp and soggy and the flowers droop, we know that frost has arrived. On an overcast morning of this unseasonably oppressively warm day, I wandered out in the garden to take the measure of them.

Nasturtium 1Nasturtium 2Nasturtium 3Nasturtium 4Nasturtium 5Nasturtium 6

The flowers may look a little careworn, but they are bearing up well.

I then spent far too long fine-tuning my complaints letter to a partner of the O’Neill Patient legal firm before finally posting it by recorded delivery and e-mailing copies to our mortgage broker and to Becky. A much more pleasant task was the final bit of paperwork as an executor of my late friend Wolf’s estate.

This involved Jackie driving me to the Post Office in New Milton. We continued on to Tanner’s Lane in time for a pre-sunset look at

the shore,

where a weak sun gleamed on the water.

Gradually

the hues deepened.

While watching this, I became aware of distant exuberant voices, until one small boy rushed past me, came to a standstill,

and waited for another to join him. Perhaps you can’t run so fast in Wellies.

Off they both continued, still testing their lung capacity,

until a somewhat larger lad divided them.

Bringing up the rear was a young woman I took to be the mother of at least one of the runners. She said she often brought them down here, where they loved to run about or throw stones. They would rather do that than anything else. “What could be better?” she exclaimed.

As I returned to the car I admired the cloudscape over the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent steak and mushroom pie, creamy mashed potatoes, crisp cabbage and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2014.

Emma Would Have Been Under Water

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When I was awaiting my hip replacement in 2009, my GP offered the opinion that I would never have a blood pressure problem. I wonder what she would have thought about my performance on the telephone today, much of which was again spent in frustrating negotiations about the mortgage. We were just about to set off with two full orange bags of clippings for the dump, when I learned that I had to make yet another call before we could be under way. I made the call. We then arrived at the dump just after it had closed.

A trip to the forest was in order.

Tree turning to autumn 1Tree turning to autumn 2Tree turning to autumn 3Tree turning to autumn 4

Only a few specimen trees were beginning to change into their autumn robes. The others still retained their summer garb.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 6

Smoky indigo clouds swirled over the moors,

Cloudscape 7

the sun only periodically piercing their cover,

Ponies 1Pony

and lighting up the ponies,

CowCattle

cattle,

Donkey and cattle

Donkeys on road

and donkeys wandering about East Boldre,

Donkeys with apples

where a woman had stopped her car and unloaded boxes of apples for their delectation.

High tide with boatHigh tideMan watching sunset

Tanner’s Lane beach was awash with the highest tide we had ever seen there. As we contemplated this we reflected that, had this been today, Emma might have been under water.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef and mushroom pie; sautéed potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts; and broccoli al dente. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank an excellent Finca Flichman reserve malbec 2015, given to me by Helen and Bill for my birthday.

 

 

Pumpkin Head

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Today I was mostly engaged in boring administration; correspondence in writing and in e-mail; filing; form-filling; and posting.

Hailstones 1Hailstones 2

Rapid rooftop rattling hailed a brief interlude with my camera, as ricocheting crystals created springboards of chairs, tables, paving, and anything else less receptive than soggy soil.

Early this afternoon we drove out to the Turfcutter’s Arms at East Boldre for a pre-dinner drink. In this we were to be disappointed, but every cloud has a silver lining.

Skies over Hordle Lane

Beginning with the building near the corner of Hordle Lane, we engaged in an exploration of September skies. The blue, white, and indigo palette was to change over the next hour.

Skies over Lymington River

The skyscape over Lymington River introduced an ochre tinge,

Skyscape at Tanner's Lane

retained at Tanner’s Lane where the Isle of Wight stood out in clear relief,

Ferries leaving Isle of Wight

as did ferries en route to Lymington.

Bournemouth from Tanner's Lane

Looking east, Southampton, with its Spinnaker tower was beautifully lit.

Skyscape 1

Indigo was the dominant hue to the west;

Tanner's Lane shoreTanner's Lane shore, Isle of Wight, clouds

in between the shoreline led through the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 6Cloudscape 7

On across the moors towards East Boldre the hues continued to shift with the swirling clouds.

Turfcutter's Arms 1Turfcutter's Arms 2

We soon reach our goal.

Log Fire at Turfcutter's Arms

We had forgotten it was Saturday. When you are retired there is no such thing as a weekend. It was initially clear that the pub was extremely popular, packed out, and with no available seating. Almost immediately, nothing was clear except the glowing pumpkin head in the fireplace. The electricity was down. Although it soon rose again, we decided to call it a day and return home.

Cloudscape 8Cloudscape 9

It was not yet sunset when we approached Hatchet Pond,

Coots on Hatchet Pond

where a pair of, as far as I could make out. coots paddled across the reflected skies.

Cloudscape 10Cloudscape 11Cloudscape 12

Sunset was not far off.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev, Jackie’s moist ratatouille, crisp roast potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Madiran.

 

Watching The Swans

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This morning I scanned the next dozen of my Streets of London colour slides, but had no time to write them up before Elizabeth arrived for lunch and the rest of the day. As I wrote yesterday, there is always tomorrow.

After lunch, the three of us went for a drive in the forest.

Jackie with bag in wind

At Tanner’s Lane beach Jackie fought with her bag threatening to fly away in a stiff breeze;

Elizabeth at Tanner's Lane

while Elizabeth took a stroll in the direction of a passing ferry boat.

Mooring rope and buoy

I wandered down to the shoreline where a broken mooring and two stray buoys suggested that the boat normally attached may have blown away in the recent storm.

Cows and calvesCows and calf 1

On the usual grass verge at Sowley, cattle and their calves lay chewing the cud.

Flies on calf

These stoic animals have only their enviable eyelashes to protect them from irritating flies. Although the cattle roam free, the ear tags indicate ownership.

We stopped for tea, coffee, and cake at The Old Bakehouse Tea Rooms in Beaulieu.

Swans and cygnets

Beside the lake a pair of swans and their cygnets provided entertainment for

Swans, cygnets, observer, and pheasant

a gentleman reclining on a fencepost while a pheasant looked on. Uma’s comment below reminded me that this is the same man who crossed the shallows to feed the parents in January – https://derrickjknight.com/2017/01/21/an-act-of-love/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s exquisite lamb jalfrezi, chicken tandoori, savoury rice topped with almonds, all preceded by meat samosas. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Island In The Sun

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This morning’s sunshine lasted long enough

to draw me into pruning the rose garden. By the time I had finished the skies had clouded over and rain begun.

Window boxes

Between showers Jackie was able to plant primulas into the large window boxes on the front wall.

Camellia 1

More camellias are in full bloom, and

Daffodils and ferns

all the beds are clamouring for our attention,

Mudflats

but we abandoned them in favour of a drive to Tanner’s Lane beach,

Boat on mudflats

where the usual boat was moored on the mudflats.

Yacht

A solitary yacht sailed alongside the Isle of Wight,

Ferry boat and The Needles

as a ferry boat threaded its way past The Needles.

At low tide seaweed clung to rocks and breakwaters.

Trees and breakwaters

Further along the coastline gnarled trees were coming into bud,

Cloudscape

as rain-laden skies loomed over the sunlit landscape.

Egrets were among the birds feeding on the shore.

Egret in flight

One rewarded my numerous efforts to catch it in flight.

Having left Tanner’s Lane and begun to drive along Sowley Lane it seemed as if we were on the floor of a school dance from my teens. In the undergrowth on one side of the lane were assembled a bouquet of hen pheasants.

Pheasants 1

The less fragrant cocks patrolled the opposite side.

Plucking up courage, they paraded a bit,

Pheasants 2

then slipped through the barrier to join the ladies.

Crane at sunset

Just before sunset at Milford on Sea a crane silhouetted against the skies was a reminder that the beach huts destroyed in gales a couple of years ago are being rebuilt.

We hastened to Barton on Sea and waited for a pair of figures to make their way along the clifftop so that I could include them in my shot. Following their progress I was to discover that the gentleman was pointing a camera away from the west, and photographing the Isle of Wight.

Truly an Island in the Sun.

Tree and holiday homes

The tree in the grounds of the holiday homes park has grown as directed by the sea breezes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Carmenère.

Foggy Necking

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We awoke to a garden covered in frost and fog. As the day progressed, some of the precipitation departed, but the mist remained. My photographs largely appeared as if in monochrome, and I undertook no editing at all.

I began with a wander round the garden. Some of these shots, especially the one featuring a dripping cobweb, were taken from an upstairs window. The other cobweb adds a hairpiece to Florence’s statue.

One front and one rear light had failed on the car, so it spent the morning in Downton Service Station.

Christchurch Road in fog

This is what Christchurch Road looked like when we collected it, and drove off, first to

Lymington River where the moored boats were barely discernible,

Ferry crew in fog

and the ferry crews hung about on the upper deck because, like Southampton Airport, the services were fogbound.

Tanner’s Lane was our next target. There the flats at low tide took on the air of Paul Nash’s paintings of the First World War.

Trees and barbed wire in fog

The barbed wire and gnarled trees separating the beach from the field added to the atmosphere.

Ponies in fog 1

As we drove off up the lane two red/brown ponies loomed up ahead.

Considering themselves safe from prying eyes, and ignoring the grey gooseberry further up the road, they embarked upon a passionate necking session.

Once we had circumvented the happy couple, we continued to St Leonard’s Grange.

Trees, both in the fields and along the road took on a spooky image, in keeping with the ruins of the ancient grange.

Pheasant in fog

A pheasant stood proud on the old stone wall of the big house.

Soon after this the journey took an alarming turn. A warning light came on and a message stated that there was a steering fault. In the increasing fog. Several miles from home. Jackie, bravely, tensely, continued, having come to the conclusion that the power steering had failed. She made it back to the service station, and switched off the engine whilst I brought out a mechanic. He sat in the driving seat, switched the ignition back on, and spun the wheel with ease. The problem had righted itself. We decided that, like any computer, when there is a problem one should always try switching it off and switching it back on.

This evening we dined on lamb steaks flavoured with our own dried rosemary, cottage pie topped with cheddar cheese, and sautéed potatoes, leeks, carrots, and green beans; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

Little And Large

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After lunch Jackie drove me on a short forest trip, after which we shopped at Lidl for basics such as toilet rolls.

Ferry

An Isle of Wight ferry boat passed the mudbank at Tanners Lane, where

the tide was so far out that the little boat that usually bobs on the water was beached.

I watched a lithe, pure white, egret stretch, then curl, its elegant neck; stab the shallow water; stretch again, shake its undulating throttle, spraying liquid; stride along the bank; and do it all again. Thus it enjoyed a late lunch.

Seaweed on breakwater

Seaweed on the wooden breakwaters indicated sea levels at high tide,

whilst two friendly women walked their Rescue lurcher who ‘has bits in him’. They were not sure of his full provenance.

Ponies 1

Keeping the grass verges at Sowley well cropped were the usual group of ponies

including Little and Large performing their routine double act.

This evening we dined on a takeaway curry from The Raj in Old Milton. We shared onion bahji starters. My main meal was prawn naga and special fried rice. Becky and I finished the Cabalié. The other didn’t drink, and I haven’t registered what they ate.